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Meet the Makers: Bryan Gonzales of BBQ Co-op

Some images need no explanation. Check this out -- wow.


We have Bryan Gonzales to thank (and maybe beg) for this prime piece. He’s a man who believes that family, community, and BBQ brings people joy. 

Cooking isn’t just a goal, it’s a passion, and it’s usually revealed to the person at a young age. In this case, Bryan is a bit of an exception, as he says that he was 28 when he became more serious with his cooking. But the craft goes way back in his family. 

“I started cooking as a way to keep my grandfather's memory alive,” he says. “I BBQ'd more once he passed and found myself carrying our family traditions on in respect to everything I learned from him.”

Family had gotten him started and family keeps him going. As much as he loves BBQing, it’s not easy work. Add to that the pressures of turning it into a business, and Bryan is certainly no stranger to challenges. It’s a good thing that his loved ones are always there for him. “Knowing they are rooting for me helps me know I have support and security. My community pushes me to keep going. I feel inspired to explore what I can offer because of their encouragement.”

My community pushes me to keep going. I feel inspired to explore what I can offer because of their encouragement.

 

A support system like Bryan’s is certainly helpful to have, but did he ever have fears and how did they manifest? His answer is candid and comforting for how relatable it is. “Fears, of course, you have fears when you start and along the way. Natural hesitation or overthinking something is the act of fear,” he admits. 

But he also has a ready supply of positivity with which to overcome his struggles. “I overcome my fears or anxiety when I see someone smile as they bite into my BBQ or add more sauce to the plate grinning ear to ear. Hearing how satisfied customers or friends are when they eat my BBQ, lets me know I am doing something I love and bringing others joy. This keeps me motivated and overshadows the fears I might have been feeling or thinking about. I am pushed to keep trying new things and being okay with the outcome.”

BBQ itself hits the spot of satisfying our tastes and our hunger. Just eating it is one of life’s purest pleasures. How about pit masters? According to Bryan, it’s double the joy. He would occasionally host small local pop-up events, and through there, he gets to meet folks who would attend because they want to try his BBQ. They usually hear of him through social media.

One particular customer stands out in his mind. “One guy, in particular, drove nearly four hours and over two hundred miles from the Dallas area just to eat my BBQ at one of my pop-ups,” he recounts. “When I learned this, I had a moment to myself that I reflected on which was the fact that there are more than just locals of San Marcos or people I know who want to try my BBQ. There are people all over Texas, the US, and maybe even farther that want to try my BBQ. When I think about this, I feel so happy that I am doing something I enjoy.”

Hearing how satisfied customers or friends are when they eat my BBQ, lets me know I am doing something I love and bringing others joy.

It sounds like a prime example of reaping what you sow. Bryan contributes his talent to his community, and in return, he gets more than income. He gets the deep-seated satisfaction that his work is appreciated by so many people. This, however, serves to keep him humble and motivated.

“My success in BBQ has had a lot to do with the support I received from others before me. It's hard to do it on your own, it is even harder to fail without a community that encourages you to keep trying,” he shares.

From this insight came the idea of BBQ Co-op, Bryan’s combined brainchild with his friend, Brandon Petterson. “BBQ Co-op is a community, family of sorts.  I started BBQ Co-op with my friend, Brandon Petterson, who has been doing BBQ ever since he was a young kid. With our combined style of business and BBQ techniques, we can offer a unique experience.”


Bryan relates that BBQ Co-op operates similarly to a farmer’s cooperative. “Everyone is working together to see each other succeed. When you are a part of a co-op and you have access to a pit or collaborate on a cooking event, it is easier because you don't have all of the upfront cost to deal with. BBQ Co-op allows others the opportunity to grow their business too while enjoying BBQ and community, a community that is like family.”

For someone who didn’t start to take his craft seriously until he was 28, Bryan already sounds like he has a lifetime of insight. Or perhaps it’s precisely because he was already a grown man when he decided BBQ was his life’s pursuit. He had already developed a mindset ready to appreciate the special lessons one can gain from dedicating yourself to your passion.

He openly shares the values that have helped him through. “Persistence, being open-minded, curious, and dreaming big,” he points out. “Not seeing limits as to what you can do motivates, inspires, and keeps me going. The life lessons gained are found in trying things out.”

Failure doesn’t exist for Bryan Gonzales. “Don't give up even when you fall, get back up and keep doing it. You haven't failed, you just tried something, so keep at it and see what happens. These are the life lessons I have gained through my BBQ.”

BBQ Co-op allows others the opportunity to grow their business too while enjoying BBQ and community, a community that is like family.

And Bryan is just getting started. “What's next, well BBQ Co-op going to the next level,” he enthuses, sharing that he and his family hope to open a food trailer in Martindale, Texas, where they have their roots. “Our target date is Spring 2022.” 

Bryan isn’t shy about opening up a brick and mortar location in the near future...something that makes the BBQ experience even richer. Texas is a culinary landmark for great barbeque, and we’re looking forward to seeing Bryan in a Texas Monthly Barbecue edition some time in the future!

You can connect with Bryan and with the BBQ Co-op through his Instagram, @brythebbqguy.